Moroccan pepper growers faced a shortage of seeds this season, forcing many of them to reduce their acreage, postpone their programs, or even abandon peppers altogether this year.
Obeida Mansour, CEO of Universal Peppers, told FreshPlaza, "Most pepper growers in Chtouka [stronghold of peppers production in Morocco, ed. note] have been through a disrupted season this year. First, there was the heatwave, which destroyed large areas, then came the shortage of seeds, especially the kappi variety."
The shortage of seeds is due to quality issues, the detection of phytosanitary faults in the seeds, and their rejection by the Moroccan authorities, who have tightened controls ahead of the season, according to the grower.
The loss of crop area due to the heatwave that hit Morocco a month ago, which exceeded 50 degrees Celsius in the Souss Massa region, resulted in the need for replanting, putting even more pressure on the seed supply.
The shortage of seeds caused uncertainty among professionals and successive postponements of the start of the season, "some growers got fed up with waiting for inconclusive deadlines and went looking for seeds elsewhere or gave up on Kappi this season."
Obeida adds, " Everything points to a decrease in Moroccan kappi volumes this season. Growers have replaced kappi with other varieties of peppers, tomatoes, and other products. It's difficult to quantify the decrease at this stage, but many growers are seeing a drop of a third to a half of their peppers acreage."
In addition to the drop in volumes, export schedules will be disrupted this year. Obeida says, " Some producers have barely started production, whereas we normally start exporting at this time of year. Effective start of the season is expected in mid-October this year."
Producers are not all affected in the same way, and some are luckier than others. This is the case for Universal Peppers, a long-standing producer of Kappi. Obeida says, "We lost around 10% of our acreage to the heatwave, in other words, we got through it all right. We were also lucky to have been prioritized by our seed supplier partners. That said, we too will have a delay in our export schedule, which only starts at the end of October."
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